Evidence-informed decision making in cancer survivorship: evaluating a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary prostate cancer supportive care program

Approximately 24,000 Canadian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, and the majority of them will face long-term treatment-related health effects that will impact their quality of life, and have significant cost implications for our health system. Examples of these effects include sexual, urinary and bowel dysfunctions, as well as depression, anxiety and other psychological or psychosocial problems. Comprehensive, evidence-based supportive care programs that address these concerns are needed.

Recognizing this gap prompted the development of a survivorship supportive care program for prostate cancer patients at the Vancouver Prostate Centre. This program addresses both the physical and psychological needs of prostate cancer survivors and their partners from the time of diagnosis. It is comprised of six complementary educational modules and individual clinic visits with providers, and administered by a multi-disciplinary team (urologists, radiation/medical oncologists, and professionals in sexual medicine, psychology, counselling, nutrition, and physiotherapy). This research will assess the costs and benefits of the survivorship program, and will consider the incremental benefits associated with each module in order to improve the program. We will address the following questions: 

  1. Do men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have participated in a program have a different pattern of health services use in the year following primary treatment compared to non-participants?
  2. Do participants of the program self-report better quality of life and symptom management than non-participants?
  3. Is the program cost-effective compared to usual standard of supportive care for individuals with prostate cancer?

The project will use a combination of administrative data, patient medical records, patient self-reported outcomes and primary cost data to develop and populate a simulation model that will track patients along care pathways within/outside the program. The model will provide an overall estimate of the program’s cost-effectiveness.

This evaluation will improve the quality and efficiency of the program and will inform the development of other cancer supportive care programs across BC. Ultimately, it has the potential to have a significant and lasting impact on the landscape of supportive care for cancer survivors.